My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. – James 2:1
This passage goes on to talk about the evil practice of honoring those who are rich, and looking down on the poor. Being partial to someone because of their financial and/or popularity status is called a transgression of the law. It is very clear that we are not to be respecters of persons.
We have a happy family. My parents have tried (and are trying) to do their best to diligently train us seven children. We are all good friends, and we love each other. However, as in all families with human members, we don’t get along perfectly all the time. Each one has their selfish flesh to battle and none of us always wins the battle. I am certainly not condoning or excusing unrighteous behavior, but everyone falls short and the only thing to do is repent, get up and fight harder the next time.
Fight the devil, I mean.
Not too long ago, I was thinking about the cause of strife, and people not getting along. Proverbs 13:10 says; “Only by pride cometh contention …” That is very true, but it is not always contention that causes problems. If I snap at my younger brother because he does something I do not like, I am not being motivated by contention – just selfishness. So as I was thinking about some other causes of the problem of “not getting along,” a phrase came to my mind: “Respecter of persons.”
I had of course read the passage in James, and understood it to refer to partiality because of wealth or social standing. It does, but the thought came to me that maybe one of the main causes of not getting along is because we are being respecters of persons.
When one of my siblings does something to irritate me, my first response is usually to snap back unkindly. But if another person outside of the family were to do the exact same thing, I would not dream of responding the same way. Why is that?
When my sister asks me a question about something I am doing and I don’t feel like telling her, I often find myself giving a curt reply. If it were one of my friends, I would be a lot nicer. Isn’t that terrible? It makes me ashamed to think of how often I am a respecter of persons – treating my family members in a way that I would be embarrassed to treat a friend.
I have found that a good question to ask myself is, “Would I say/do this if it was my best friend, and not my sibling?” Another question is, “Would I say/do this if Yeshua were standing beside me?” Unfortunately, I find myself asking those questions after the fact – after I have responded unkindly.
I remember talking with different friends of mine who were the oldest of the children in their family. It seemed like we all struggled with some of the same things – being controlling and bossy, and not guarding our tongues. As I’ve thought about it more and more, it appears that we would have fewer struggles if we treated our siblings as nice as we do our friends. Of course, that’s easier said than done!
Siblings do have a different relationship with each other, than most friends do. Often we can say things to our siblings that we wouldn’t say to our friends, and we’re not necessarily being unkind. I can remind my siblings to brush their teeth, pick up their clothes off the floor, or hurry and finish the chores, and do it in loving kindness. I most likely would not say the same things to a friend, simply because there is a different relationship level.
I’m not trying to imply that siblings should have the same relationship level with each other as they do with friends. However, I daresay there would be less strife and bickering in families, if we stopped for just a minute and tried to imagine that our “troublesome sibling,” was our best friend.
When my little sister comes running down the hall, and knocks into me, what is my reaction?
“What are you doing? You know you’re not supposed to run in the house!”
But when our friends come to visit, and their little girl runs into me, what is my reaction? I smile a little and say:
“Better be more careful next time!”
I know that there are many times when I fall short, and become a respecter of persons. Praise the Father for His forgiveness and grace to try again! I would encourage each of you to prayerfully consider your relationship with your siblings and your parents. See if there are any areas where you are being a respecter of persons. Remember that your position as a daughter and sister is an extremely important one and you are creating impressions that will last a lifetime. What do you want your family to remember about you?
(This article was originally published in Volume1 Number2/Summer 2008. You can request the entire issue in PDF on this page.)
Possibly sharing at: The Modest Mom, Mama Moments, The Art of Home-Making Monday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Titus 2sdays, Roses Of Inspiration, So Much At Home, A Wise Woman, Raising Homemakers, A Little R&R, Coffee and Conversation, Hearts for Home, Growing in Grace, Imparting Grace, SHINE Blog Hop, Grace and Truth, Fellowship Fridays.